The American Election – some thoughts

What happens in America affects the whole world.

The establishment will still control everything whoever gets in, but that does not mean that nothing changes. These two candidates represent radically different views on many issues.

It seems to me that if Trump gets re-elected he will continue to:

trash the environment

pollute for profit

undermine science

undermine experts

promote neo-nazi groups

promote guns

reduce women’s rights

promote evangelical christianity

feather his own nest with tax evasion, nepotism and corruption

continue his war scapegoating immigrants and muslims

cosy up to tyrants

break ties with allies

continue his trade wars

interfere in other country’s politics

foster division and fuel hatred

empower racists, xenophobes, misogynists and white supremacists

and continue to lie

Biden may be old, and he may represent the establishment (just like Trump does) but he might just begin to heal the massive wound that is tearing America apart. The wound that Trump is deliberately ripping open for his own ends. He will bring back some Presidential decorum and raise the status of America from out of the sewer Trump has put it into.

That’s how it looks to me. What do you think?

Naivety and my friend Bali – Extract from ‘Farther from the Sun’.

I had been naïve and ignorant. My eyes were opened when I walked around town with my friend Bali – Mohamed Iqbal to give him his full title. I saw the rudeness first hand. I saw the way he could not get served in some shops. I saw the way a shopkeeper would put the money down on the counter in case they might touch his hand. Even when nothing was said you could see the loathing and hatred in their eyes.

He lived with that on a daily basis. He was intelligent and sensitive with a great sense of humour.

“How do you put up with it?” I asked.

“You just have to laugh,” he said. “If you let it get to you you’d become twisted. Not everybody is like it.”

“But doesn’t it make you angry? It’d make me feel like punching them! I’d want to get a gun and shoot the bastards.”

“I don’t know if that would solve the problem,” he laughed.

For all my ideals he is a better man than I am. I couldn’t put up with that level of abuse every day. I’d explode!

30.10.01

Racism in London Schools in the 1980s – Extract from ‘Father from the Sun’.

I see a world without war or terrorism, where art, poetry, drama and dance are valued and appreciated.

21.9.01

 

We lived in a predominantly white area. I wanted to widen the experience of the students I taught. I figured that getting to know black and brown people as real people and not mere stereotypes, would alter attitudes. My first attempt was to organise a cultural exchange with Asian kids from Bradford. I went on a few multicultural courses to see if I could get it arranged.

One course had these two Headteachers talking about racism and the effect it had on students in their schools. This was in the early 80s with the National Front, British Movement Nazi Skinhead running on the streets.

One Asian girl had moved into the area with her family. She was twelve and extremely intelligent. In the tests, she was flying high. She seemed happy and socially well adapted.

In her second term, things started to tail off. She wasn’t completing homeworks. She was absent a lot and often late to class. Her test results were tumbling.

The school followed the normal procedures and wrote home but received no response. They talked to the girl but she was quiet and sullen and wouldn’t open up. Then she went absent for over a month. They visited her address but it was empty and the address appeared burnt out.

When she returned to school they questioned her again. “Had she moved?”

No. They were still living there but she told her teachers that nobody would answer if anybody called. They were scared. If they wanted she could take them home with her to meet with her parents.

They took her home. The downstairs was completely burnt out. The family lived in two rooms upstairs. The council refused to house them because they accused the family of deliberately burning the house out in order to be rehoused.

The family had a different tale.

Shortly after they’d moved in, they claimed to have been subjected to racial taunting, threats and abuse. Gangs of youths would appear outside and throw stones at their windows. They had reported it to the police but nothing had happened. In the end, they’d had to board up all the windows.

Then one night, while they were all asleep, petrol had been poured through the front and back door and the house set alight. They’d been lucky to get out but all the downstairs was gutted.

Yes, of course, it was affecting their daughter’s education. She had nowhere to work. She was frightened all the time. She kept expecting another firebombing and thought they were all going to be killed. She was often late because she had to be taken to school otherwise she was attacked and beaten up on the way to school. She’d just been off school for a long period because her mother had been attacked while taking her to school, and had been kicked and stamped on. She’d been in hospital and couldn’t so take her daughter to school. The father had also been attacked and hospitalised. He had suffered a fractured skull when he had opened the door to be smashed around the head with a cricket bat.

It all sounded too terrible.

The school sent someone round to stay the night and verify the attacks.

Sure enough, at two a.m. a gang of youths appeared outside and began shouting up at them and throwing bricks at the boarded-up windows. The police were phoned and half an hour later a police car came and parked up the road. The police watched the youths throwing stones for half an hour and then drove off.

The result of the school’s greater understanding of what was going on with their student was that they banned the police from coming on site. In their view, the people who were meant to the there to protect people were part of the problem.

This is England in the 1980s. This is a bastion of civilisation. This is freedom.

30.10.01

 

I see a world where architecture and human culture respects the environment and is in harmony with it. Where there is no habitat destruction or pollution and other life is sanctified and protected.

21.9.01

 

So what o the British Movement and National Front hope to achieve? To make it horrible enough for anyone with a different coloured skin that they decide to pack up and go home?

Not according to my friends with the adopted black children. The black community was not moved to move away. The attacks merely created anger and frustration. It created hatred. It also created revenge and vigilante action. Gangs of Asian youths organised and set about attacking whites, lying in wait for the white gangs, but attacking anyone who fitted the description. Areas rapidly became no-go areas.

My friends moved to Leeds and set up home in Whitechapel. They were accepted by the black community. When we visited we were told to park elsewhere and they’d meet us and escort us in, otherwise, we might get attacked.

Is this the type of country we want to build?

30.10.01

BLM – Ritchie Havens – What You Gonna Do About Me?

In this time of social change with a big surge of hope for greater equality as Black Lives Matter and George Floyd provides momentum this song from the late Ritchie Havens takes on greater poignancy.

My Favourite Protest Songs – Ritchie Havens – What You Gonna Do About Me?

This is another one for the environmental vandal Trump and in support of Black Lives Matter.

This is a song off the great album The Blind Degree.  I used to play this a lot.

When things are wrong it is incumbent on all right-minded people to stand up and protest. We cannot allow the greedy and selfish to trash the planet. We cannot allow inequality to poison our society.

It is time the environmental movement, the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-fascist movements combined. We are all opposing the same greedy minority.

What you gonna do about us? We are gonna stick up for what we believe in and we’re prepared to be shot down.

What You Gonna Do About Me? – Ritchie Havens

You poison my sweet waters; you chop down my green trees
And the food you feed my children is the cause of that ill disease
My world is slowly falling down and the air is not fit to breathe
And those of us who care enough, we have to do something
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

Your newspapers – they just put you on
They never tell you the whole story
They just put your young ideas down
I was wondering if this was the end of their pride and glory?
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

I work in your factories and I study in your schools
I fill your penitentiaries and your military too
I can feel the future trembling as the word is passed around
If you stick up for what you do believe in, be prepared to be shot down
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

I feel just like a stranger in the land where I was born
And I live just like an outlaw; I’m always on the run
Always on the run, they got me always on the run

Oh, your soldiers smoke marijuana, you can’t put them behind your walls
Because most of what you taught them to do is against most of your laws
We’re all fugitives from injustice now but we’re going to be free
Because your rules and regulations don’t do the things for me
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

You may be the stronger now, but my time will come around
You keep adding to my numbers as you shoot my people down
I can feel the future trembling as the word is passed around
We are going to stick up for what we do believe in, and we’re prepared to be shot down
Oh, what you gonna do about me
Oh, what you gonna do about me

I feel just like a stranger in the land where I was born
And I live just like an outlaw; I’m always on the run
Always on the run, they got me always on the run

Poetry – Barely Begun

Barely Begun

 

We’ve landed on the moon,

Flown past all the planets and close to the sun

But when it comes to tackling racism

We’ve barely begun.

 

We’ve crossed every ocean

And pounded our feet into every shore

But when it comes to settling arguments

We still go to war.

 

We’ve got super computers

And every conceivable machine,

But when it comes to gender equality

Nobody knows what it means.

 

It seems that the economic model

Works well for the few,

But when it comes to dealing with poverty

It’s something they don’t want to do.

 

It is time we started to address

All these issues that keep us oppressed.

For when it comes to elections

You’ll find you’ll hit the acid-test!

 

Opher – 22.6.2020

The experiment on Discrimination and Prejudice that contains a powerful message for us all.

This is Jane Elliott’s Blue Eye Brown Eye experiment that clearly demonstrates the impact of prejudice and discrimination. This was carried out fifty years ago. It is so powerful and has a message for all of us!

We have to build a better society without the inbuilt prejudices and discrimination of race, gender or ability. We are all important. To be victim of such discrimination is debilitating and simply wrong.

It is so scary to see how easily we can be manipulated and what a huge impact it has on us.

Bob Marley – War – The importance of great lyrics and social justice.

So relevant today!! Black lives matter!!

Opher's World

Bob Marley – War – The importance of great lyrics and social justice.

bob-marley-playing-guitargoldsmith

I always love great lyrics. For me in order to be brilliant a song requires some poetic words with meaning to get your teeth into.

War by Bob Marley is a favourite of mine. It was based on the address of King Haile Selassie of Ethiopia to the United Nations and sums up my feelings.

Until we as a race reach the point where we address the difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ we will have war and conflict. If you have nothing you have nothing to lose.

The disaffected in our country and throughout the world will cause trouble when they see the lifestyle of others who have so much from contributing so little.

For me the issues of social justice, the protection of the environment and population control are paramount…

View original post 255 more words

Poetry – Division is good for me

Division is good for me

 

Toughen up!

With tear gas, shields and guns,

What was peaceful becomes violent.

 

The country is at war

But the President

Won’t relent!

 

The hard man of law and order,

Who builds walls on his border,

Won’t be bent!

 

It’s a land where it is OK to be fascist;

When the rudest word is now socialist.

Where discrimination is the norm

And application of law is racist.

 

A country ruled by guns and knees

Which always ignores a victim’s pleas.

 

The country is at war

But the President

Won’t relent!

 

Opher – 2.5.2020

Poetry – One of the Lads – John Phillips

John writes poems and stories. He has just brought his first book out – it’s called Shorts and shots.

This poem focusses on patriotism, nationalism and the rancid distorted result. People like Jimmy, in olden times, were the nutcases we used in the front line to attack the enemy and defend us. They were vital to success. Now they are anachronisms. In the modern world they have no place. They are a liability. In a civilised world, a multicultural society, these idiots need locking up.

This is a poem from that book:

One of the lads

 

Jimmy was a warrior, Jimmy was a man;

Jimmy fought for England, Jimmy was a fan.

Jimmy had a Union Jack tattooed across his chest;

With steel-capped toes upon his boots; a bulldog on his vest.

 

Jimmy fought the Football wars with head and fists and feet.

He fought them on the terraces, he fought them in the street.

He fought with stones and bottles; he fought with clubs and chains;
His name was feared in all the pubs; he was banned from all the games.

 

Jimmy hated foreigners, his tongue would rant and shout;

To smash the Blacks, to gas the Jews, to one-day, kill a Kraut.

He claimed he was a patriot, his countries needs to serve;

And Any Bastard In The Way would Get What They Deserved!

 

Jimmy s end came suddenly whilst lying on his bed,

With fourteen pints of lager and a lighted cigarette.

They said it was a tragedy, they said he was n’t bad.

They said he was a hero. Just one of the lads.

Music to keep me Sane in Isolation! – Gil Scott-Heron

Gil was a writer and musician. He wrote novels and lyrical poems.

He created a jazz-fusion rap that put his poetry to music – often with an African beat.

He was unique.

The first track of his that I heard was B Movie – a fabulous diatribe against Reagan. It got me into the rest of his work – The Revolution Will Not Be televised, Whitey On the Moon and Inner City Blues all hit the mark.

Gil wrote about the plight of the black ghettos in a way that nobody had. This was poetic social commentary with biting satire and beauty.

Love the man!

So today I will being play Gil loud and proud!